Monday, October 31, 2011

My Town Monday: Feral Cats at Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

(photo credit: google images. I would never get this close to such a scary looking cat!)

Every night, after the park closes, Disneyland unleashes 200+ feral cats who prowl the Park and keep the roden population under control.

During the day, these cats lead a, well, dog's life. They live in well-maintained cat houses, dine at the five or so hidden feeding stations, have access to health care (shots, neutering, spaying, no botox though :) ). The cats are kept under wraps when the Park is open to guests, although rumor has it you might be able to spot a cute tabby face from the Jungle Cruise ride.

How did Disneyland end up employing dozens of our feline friends? In the late 1950s, the Sleeping Beauty castle underwent a major renovation. Guess who construction works found squatting inside the castle? Over a hundred Orange County alley cats. Along with a huge number of fleas! Disneyland tried to evict the cats, but to no avail. And then a bright Disneyland employee mentioned how they weren't having the problems with rodents that once plagued the Park. And, voila, the furry workers were hired! Without an interview!

What I'd like to see is human Park employees herding the cats back to their barracks at the end of the nighttime shift. :)

So, there you have it. The cat's out of the bag now on what goes in Disneyland after the last guest leaves! (Surely you knew I'd squeeze in a cat idiom or two!)

(photo credit: google images, once again. Although I would happily get close enough to a cute cat like this to get the shot.)

And I leave you with a photo I did take. It's of Child #4's winning graveyard cake. It took first at her school's Halloween Carnival this past weekend!

Please check out the posts by the other My Town Monday participants by clicking here. Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 21, 2011

An Unusual Occurrence

Something unusual happened last night.

I found myself, away from home and alone, with an hour to spare between activities. Child #3's water polo game ended earlier than I'd anticipated. Plus, Mr. Summy arrived which meant I no longer needed to drive Child #3 home and feed him. And Child #4 is still off at Sixth Grade Camp, so I didn't have any responsibilities there, either.

An hour alone. Away from home. At 5:30pm. What's a harried mother/writer to do?

I went to a small sushi restaurant and sat, in blissful silence. I mulled over my work-in-progress and figured out how to handle the current plot snag. I read a chapter of Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen. I ate slowly.

And as I dipped my spicy salmon roll into a puddle of soy sauce, I thought why am I not having more calm, relaxing moments like these?

I saved the pink (!) fortune cookie for Child #4, who returns from camp at 2:15 today!

Are the rest of you stopping to smell the roses? If yes, how are you working this into a busy schedule? Any tips are appreciated!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Town Monday: Glow-In-The-Dark Waves in San Diego, CA

Here's what our ocean looks like during the day...

Red Tide in San Diego (photo credit: Gary Robbins, Union-Tribune)

And here's what it looks like at night...

Bioluminescent waves (photo credit: Brian Witkin, google images)

Phytoplankton, an algae that blooms late in the summer, is lighting up our beaches thanks to a scientific phenomenon called bioluminescence. When these tiny creatures are jostled, a chemical reaction occurs at the cellular level, and, wow, a blue light flashes.

So, when a wave breaks, billions of these single-cell organisms emit blue flashes. It's kind of like a wave of fireflies. Of course, there are lots of fun ways to light up the night: run along the beach, stir the water with your foot, surf, throw water from a bucket, etc. I've even heard you can fill a bottle with sea water and flush it down your toilet.

How long will the red tide be with us? No one knows for sure. It arrived at the end of September and may suddenly leave if the weather changes and blows it out or if a bunch of salp, a small jellylike creature, drift in and eat them up or if... Then again, the red tide might stick around for a while.

But, at least for the moment, we have glow-in-the-dark waves in San Deigo!

I'm this week's hostess. If you throw up a My Town Monday post, let me know here or on the official My Town Monday blog, and I'l link to you on both.

Below are links to some interesting My-Town-Monday posts by other bloggers:

Debra of From Skilled Hands has proof of great beauty in her small Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Jeannette Marie Powell has a haunting post on Frankenstein's Tower in Dayton, Ohio. Ooooh...

Enjoy your Monday!


Monday, October 10, 2011

My Town Monday: Blue Whales Spotted, San Diego CA

Thank you Google Images for this picture of a blue whale. The swimmer is not me.

Endangered blue whales are being spotted off the coast here. This is unusual. While we're pretty good at predicting when gray whales will cruise by, blue whales don't have regular migration patterns. According to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the blue whales have come to visit for our krill. Thanks to complicated factors like super swirling ocean waters this year, we currently have an abundance of these shrimp-like creatures. Blue whales are always on the lookout for a swarm of krill. A blue whale might suck back 4+ tons or 40 million krill a day.

Blue whales (they're actually blue-gray) are enormous. In fact, they're the largest mammals in the world, growing to 75-100 feet (depending on the hemisphere). Males weigh about 100 tons, while females, ta dum, can weigh in at a hefty 150 tons. Nursing calves gain 200 pounds a day, which translates to 8 or so pounds an hour and 1 1/2 inches a day! How wild is this?! It's like you could actually watch them grow!

To help you get even more of a sense of how huge these guys are:
~50 people could stand on the tongue of a blue whale
~A blue whale's heart is the size of a car

Blue whales can communicate with each other over hundreds of sea miles. More than heard, their low rumbling sounds are actually felt. This is my favorite fact. Also, they're very fast swimmers. They generally cruise at 12 mph, but can ramp it up to 30 mph when necessary.

It's a good time to go whale watching. The blue whales will be here until Halloween. There are only about 5000 of these creatures in the world.

Oh, and just in case you don't know this, whales have belly buttons. ;)

Here's a link to the official My Town Monday blog for links to more posts about various corners of the world. Always of interest!

Oh, and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to my fellow citizens!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Child #3

Yesterday at 8 pm on the dot, Child #3 turned sixteen! He's very energetic, competitive, smart, good-looking, optimistic, humorous, interesting, entertaining (perhaps too entertaining, according to a teacher or two). He's truly one of those people you like to hang out with.

It's hard to believe he's actually sixteen! Even harder to think about him leaving the nest in just a few years. (I have departure on the brain with Child#2 off for his freshman year at college.)

Below is a video (very short) of how Child #3's high school water polo team helped him celebrate the big day.

Watch out Child #3!!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Book Review Club (October 2011)

Welcome one and all to the THIRTY-FOURTH meeting of our Book Review Club. (The caps are my shock at such a robust number of meetings!!)

Today you are in for many treats. We have terrific reviews, starting with one by my little sister! There she is, above and to the left, eating Indian candy. Next to her is her daughter/my niece noshing on a samosa (which you can't see, but is there nonetheless). The food goes with the book reviewed.

Do you see the smile on my little sister's face? It's because she's sharing a book she absolutely loves.( And maybe a little bit because of the candy.) Thanks for joining in this month, Sheilagh! You're the best!

SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter, Shilpi Samaya Gowda’s first book, is about motherhood. The story follows two families, one in India and one in America. Americans Somer and Krishan adopt Asha, Kavita’s birth daughter.

Kavita lives in a small village in India, in a culture that favours sons. When she gives birth to her second daughter, there is only one way she can save her from the same fate as her first daughter. Barely a day after giving birth, Kavita walks all day to Mumbai with her sister, carrying her new baby, and leaves her in the orphanage. It is the only time Kavita defies her husband, Jasu. She never forgets this daughter and often imagines reuniting with her.

On the other side of the world, Somer, after several miscarriages, agrees to consider adoption. Her husband, Krishan, who was born in India, encourages her to adopt a child from India, and they end up adopting Kavita’s daughter, Asha.

The story follows the lives of Somer, Krishnan and Asha, who wishes to know more about her birth parents, as well as Kavita, Jasu and their much anticipated, but disappointing, son. Throughout the story, the author shows the relationships between family members and the difficulties they face over time, leading up to Jasu’s moving recognition of Kavita’s bravery.

This story will tug at your heart strings long after you've closed the book.

To read more about Shilpi Somay Gowda and watch an interview with her, please click here.

Below are amazing reviews put together by amazing reviewers. All for you. Please click through.


Jody Feldman: DOING THE GALAXY GAMES: THE CHALLENGERS by Greg R. Fishbone (Middle Grade)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens (Middle Grade)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman (/Middle Grade/Young Adult)

Stacy Nyikos: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis (Young Adult)

Beth Yarnall: THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET by Kady Cross (Young Adult Steampunk)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher (Young Adult)

Sarah Laurence: YOU ARE MY ONLY by Beth Kephart (Young Adult)

Keri Mikulski: LIPSTICK LAWS by Amy Holder and POPULAR by Alissa Grosso (both are Young Adult)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson

Patti Abbott: TURN OF MIND by Alice LaPlante

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES by Jeffrey Eugenides (literary)

Kathy Holmes: LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry (Women's)

Scott Parker: HEAT RISES by Richard Castle (Mystery)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: A HUNDRED THOUSAND DRAGONS by Dolores Gordon-Smith (Mystery)



Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE by Michio Kaku (Adult)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!